A deciduous shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf mid March, and it is in flower from Jun to July, and the fruit is ripe from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by flies. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
A very easily grown plant, it tolerates most soils and situations, growing well on chalk, but prefers a moist loamy soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates some shade but fruits better in a sunny position. Tolerates atmospheric pollution and coastal situations.
The flavour of the raw fruit is not acceptable to many tastes, though when cooked it makes delicious jams, preserves, pies, sauces, chutneys etc, it is also often used to make wine. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter and is borne in large clusters.
The flowers have an aromatic smell and flavour and are used to add a muscatel flavour to stewed fruits, jellies and jams (especially gooseberry jam). They are often used to make a sparkling wine. A sweet tea is made from the dried flowers.